Monday, May 31, 2010
Consisting of Jesse Cohen (from Professor Murder) and Eric Emm (from Don Caballero and Storm & Stress), Tanlines is another Brooklyn duo, but they have very few things in common with their hip neighbor friends - or even with their previous projects, for that matter, more indebted to post-punk and math-rock. A sunny proposition with an incredible amount of luminous hooks and neon vibes, Settings is pure synth-pop in all its glory, bringing into mind the sounds of Swedish heroes The Tough Alliance.
With half the songs as instrumentals, the partial lack of voices is not a reason to stop being melodic, as they so well demonstrate. Marrying tropical percussive elements with swirling guitars and modern electronic, these are tracks that should appeal to the most basic instincts, only because they sound so direct and clean - and also really damm catchy. And while the lead voices, when appearing, have an amauteurish vibe that could put off some ears, this fact actually adds an unique homemade atmosphere, thus exuding a charm of its own.
The amount of projects out there that are as much inspired by indie-rock as club music is huge and still increasing, so much so that these divisions have actually stopped making sense these days. Tanlines are here to blur that line a bit further...and they do so while making us travel to a summer island with a fresh cocktail in our hands. (7/10)
Tanlines - Real Life (mp3 via Pitchfork)
Friday, May 28, 2010
What a blast! With its massive synths, urgent loudness, mega catchiness, and coming with a genuine fun video full of hilarious images, this is the perfect song to celebrate the good times ahead. And that is even if you're not Living In America. Have a great (and sexy) weekend!
Monday, May 24, 2010
A whole thesis could be written about post-break-up records, but generally speaking, it can be said that they are usually seen as a return to form for the artist in question - and let's not try to analyze the reasons behind this fact. The truth is that, in many cases, it really is like that, and Raymond V Raymond is no exception.
Saying that this new album by Usher is full of contradictions is a redundancy, considering its title. But when you follow the moving falsetto tenderness of There Goes My Baby ("I get the chills whenever I see your face") with a call for a girl to be your Little Freak ("let her put her hands in your pants"); or a poignant ballad like Papers (those filed for divorce, although "I can't deny how much I love you") with a dirty fest titled So Many Girls ("can't decide which one I'll be taking home"), then that's because something really nasty is happening with your thoughts.
And that is exactly the fuel that marks Usher's return to form. After 2008's Here I Stand, an album full of mid-tempo tracks that included some of the best songs of his career - Love In This Club, Moving Mountains - among a handful of fillers, this new record is the one where he goes out of his comfort zone and takes more risks, translating his own conflicting feelings into a sound that can be described as dirtier and more electronic. The basis is that kind of digital r&b which had a recent peak in Love vs. Money by The-Dream, the rest is the charisma of a superstar in a peculiar period of his own personal life.
So these days, beneath the über-stylish - and great - videos (check out below the one for OMG), it's actually all or nothing for Usher: no regrets about that divorce, just a bittersweet aftertaste, added to an urgent need to fill those sexual instincts. Which, btw, are apparently even stronger than ever. (8/10)
Usher - OMG (feat. Will.I.Am) (video)
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Could it be that the pop-anthem of this summer has already arrived? Yes, it looks so with the release of Robyn's Dancing On My Own. This track is set to keep all the boys and girls dancing until the early morning, it's just such an infectious beat and sophisticated sound, the perfect soundtrack to everyone who's doing it by themselves. Robyn, we're all dancing with you!
A cool lo-fi video has just been released for LCD Soundsystem's cover of Bye Bye Bayou (a buzz 12" that preceded their current This is Happening album). This is a great track and I'm happy they did a video for it, I love all the retro video effects used here. Travel back to 1981 and enjoy it, the video is just below:
Monday, May 17, 2010
Now that everybody seems to be praising The National's new album as some sort of culmination of their career, I'd like to direct your attention to a similar case, albeit in a much more underground level. Not that this Swedish band's music has much in common with The National (it hasn't), but record after record, they have also been slowly gathering a cult-following that never ceases to increase.
Clinging To A Scheme is their most recent release in a career that started almost a decade ago, and they use those years of experience wisely: in other words, slowly progressing their sound into an idea of indie pop full of nostalgic feelings, to be heard by any special boy and girl out there during those cosy warm days and nights where one just wants to be hugged by music that speaks directly to our hearts.
Using loads of reverb doesn't hide the fact that these songs are just too damm perfect in all their dreamy intensity, pursuing a very specific ideal of beauty with plenty of evocative powers - some might even call it cinematic, others shoegazing. Like whispering incomplete sketches to be filled by anyone's imagination - and maybe that's why it reminds me so much of the seminal Handwriting by Khonnor -, each track has a quiet incandescent light that, metaphorically speaking, actually ends up blinding and melting all possible senses.
Soundtracking a misfit's dreams and making them seem like the most vital ones ever. I'm sure Donnie Darko would love it. (8/10)
The Radio Dept. - Heaven's On Fire (mp3 via Labrador)
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
We all know by now that a significant part of Swedish music has a special thing for melancholic and dreamy melodies, so it should come as no surprise that Oskar Humlebo's second album as Moto Boy is so rich in heart-breaking pop songs that seem always on the verge of falling apart.
With just a few sparse elements - and a very special mention should be made to the wonderful strings section that takes most of these tracks to a whole new and beautiful place -, this is an album that seems like the definition of all things delicate, due to its overall sound and topics addressed. But on the other hand, the songs in here are no less intense because of that, just on the contrary. Each piece oozes emotion in abundance, actually making the experience of hearing Lost In The Call quite a huge one.
True, sometimes you can feel it's all too much, especially when you're not in the mood to be taken by the deep melancholic feelings of a man that seems to have too much of them. Or maybe the concept of expressing too much honest emotions is actually an absurd one that shouldn't really be discussed, and we're all just immersed in a constant state of irony to be fully moved by pureness when have it in our faces. Either way, there's no denying that the nightly atmosphere of this music is all too pretty to ignore. For a complete taste of it, the album is fully available for download here. (7/10)
Moto Boy - Heart Is A Rebel (mp3 via indietoday.net)
Monday, May 10, 2010
Apparently she's already big in her home country Canada so, next step: the world. And with this remixed version of Saviour, Valerie Anne Poxleitner shows that she more than has the goods to be loved by everyone with a stint of emotion. An irresistible piece of heavily auto-tuned pop gold, this is one of those songs that appeals to every good feeling imaginable, featuring an absurdly catchy melody that explodes big time in its huge chorus. So actually, next step: the stars... and done.
LIGHTS - Saviour (Adam Young remix) (mp3 via Ohinvertedworldclub)
Saturday, May 08, 2010
What a nice surprise! I usually take Beyonce's reinventions with a grain of salt but deep down I think she is one of the best performers and one of the hardest working girls out there right now. She has built a solid career out of Destiny's Child and transformed herself into this R'n'B queen that just hands you out the goods again and again. And so is the case with this new track, a new single for the re-release of the I Am/Sasha Fierce album. The track is penned with cooler than cool kid sister Solange Knowles (love her) and it sounds just great. And on top of that we get an amazing (read hilarious) video with Beyonce rocking tons of vintage looks. I think the pin-up vibe suits her really well, she looks beautiful! Best moment: the little interlude where she is seen dusting-off a shelve full of Grammy awards! What's there no to love about her?
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Just got back from the double bill concert of The Horrors / Crystal Castles here in Lisbon and it was great. It seems clear that this was indeed a great choice of bands to perform at the same gig: both brought a dark atmosphere into the room, one via a rock point of view, the other via pure electronica experimentation. I managed to capture some cool photos from The Horrors gig (above) and some iphone shots of Crystal Castles' strobe infused show (below). The noisy vibe of the iphone cam kind of transmits the exact feeling of their show.
Monday, May 03, 2010
"Get up/ Get up/ Get up"
Last year, with the Ayrton Senna EP, Delorean were put inside the chillwave bag, while being considered as the sunnier side of that movement's trademark sound. But now, with this striking just-released full-length, they transcend that movement with a whole lot of class. Subiza is an instant synth-pop classic infused in nineties-house elements, feeling like a trend-setter for a whole new genre.
Transcendence is actually the word du jour in here. From the first minute, each sound is put together to make us reach for the stars, with major-key melodies being carried away by an avalanche of synths and sounds that take the concept of luminous into a whole new level. If you actually start feeling dizzy, don't worry, that's a good thing and you're not alone.
Delorean may come from Barcelona and it could be easy to display this fact as part of the reason why Subiza feels so summery. But actually, they have more in common with the spirit of Scandinavian label Sincerely Yours than anything else. Like Swedish heroes The Tough Alliance, Air France or jj, this four-piece project plays with the art of escapism in a genuine way that seems almost innocent. And ultimately, it's that innocence that puts this dance-pop record on its unique place: yes, this is electronic music built on sequencers and drum machines while verging on ecstatic moods. But it also feels extremely personal.
Remember the smiley symbol of the nineties rave culture? So it seems he's still alive and relevant again. But this time he's actually more comfortable when doing his thing - smiling - just for you. (8/10)
Delorean - Stay Close (video)
Saturday, May 01, 2010
I have to confess that I still don't know what to make of M.I.A.'s new video. Directed by Romain Gavras, this 9-minute-clip features a lot of very violent actions taken against a prominent minority group that you wouldn't expect seeing in this kind of context. Annoying points of the video: its smart-ass cleverness and the fact that it's full of gratuitously graphic images in an obvious attempt to be shocking and controversial just for the sake of it - and thus talked about. But on the other hand, smart-ass or not, it's anyway a very clever piece, and also quite a descend into hell: even you may see it as just entertainment during the first minutes, it then gets progressively more and more disturbing as it evolves, until there's finally no way out for anyone. Literally.